Luke Weaver had an incredibly effective 1st inning. He got Inciarte to ground out to 2B on the first pitch, battled Albies to a full count and got him to chase an elevated fastball for strike 3, and then also got Freeman to pop out on the first pitch - this one to Ozuna down the LF line. He threw just 10 pitches.
Max Fried answered Weaver’s strong start with one of his own. Though Carpenter worked him to a full count, the Cardinal 3rd baseman could only line out softly to 2B on the payoff pitch. Pham and Martinez then struck out looking and swinging, respectively. Fried threw 14 pitches.
The 2nd is Weaver’s most troublesome inning, and today was no different. Nick Markakis led off with a second-pitch double off the RF wall, just out of Bader’s reach. After Suzuki flew out to RF on the first pitch, Ronald Acuna launced a 3-0 cookie over the CF wall for a 2-run HR. Weaver recovered to get Comargo to line out to 3B, and Swanson to fly out to CF. He was at 25 pitches. 2-0 Braves.
The Cardinals mounted a rally, looking to get those runs back. Though Ozuna grounded out to 3B to lead off, Yadi inside-outed the Cardinals’ first hit to CF. Then, after Gyorko struck out swinging at a curveball, Bader guided a seeing-eye single up the middle, on which Molina advanced to 3B. But both runners were stranded as a helpless Munoz struck out waving at a curveball. Fried was up to 33 pitches.
Weaver imitated his counterpart in the top of the 3rd. He struck out Fried, and got Inciarte to ground out to 3B to lead off the inning. But Albies pulled a hard single to RF (on which Bader almost threw him out at 1B,) and Freeman followed by punching an 0-2 pitch against the shift for another single. But Weaver ultimately got the red-hot Nick Markakis to strike out hacking at a change up the dropped off the table. He was at 44 pitches.
The Cardinals looked like they had something going in the 3rd, as Weaver helped himself and led off with a single to RF. But it came crashing to a halt as Carpenter struck out on a check swing, and Pham grounded into a 6-4-3 double play, which required a leap and tag by Freeman to complete. Fried was up to 42 pitches.
Weaver made the 4th his best inning. He got Suzuki to chop out to 3B, aided by a strong charging play by Matt Carpenter. He then got revenge on Acuna, striking him out on 4 pitches, and finally got Camargo to pop out to 3B with his 56th pitch.
Fried started having trouble landing properly, falling off the mound while finishing a couple of his pitches, but it had little effect on the end results of the game. He got Martinez to ground out softly to 2B, and then struck out Ozuna hacking at a curveball, despite having fallen behind him 3-0. Yadi watched Fried stumble around and drew a walk, but Gyorko grounded out harmlessly to 2B. Fried was at 56 pitches.
Weaver followed up his best inning with his worst. It started out well enough, with a strike out of Dansby Swanson. But Fried lined a single, the first of his career, down the LF line, and Inciarte followed with a Texas Leaguer to short RCF. Ozzie Albies promptly padded the Braves’ lead with an RBI ground-rule double to RF. With 1B open, and Freeman due up, Matheny opted to load the bases via IBB, but Nick Markakis made him pay. Weaver got ahead of the Braves’ right fielder 1-2, but saw that count become 3-2, which meant Markakis was going to get something to hit. Which he did. And he did. Markakis parked Weaver’s fastball in the Cardinals’ bullpen in RF for a grand slam.
But the Braves weren’t done. After Suzuki tapped out to Molina, Ronald Acuna Jr. lined a grounder down the LF that got lodged under the wall for another ground-rule double. Camargo then drew a walk, and Dansby Swanson lined an RBI single to RF to extend the already comical Atlanta lead, and chase Weaver.
John Brebbia relieved him, and got Friend to ground out to 2B. 8-0 Braves.
Fried showed no ill effects from the long break between his half innings. He got Bader to strike out swinging, and then quickly got Munoz to ground out to 2B. The Cardinals were clearly desperate for innings, and so let John Brebbia bat for himself. He struck out looking at Fried’s 9th pitch of the inning, 65th overall.
The Braves kept playing hard, and showed no mercy to the Cardinals. Inciarte led off with a ground-rule double down the RF line, and Ozzie Albies cashed him in with a bloop single over SS. Pham’s throw went in an out-of-position Martinez, allowing Inciarte to score, and Albies to advance to 2B. Albies moved over to 3B on Freeman’s ground out to 1B, and Markakis brought him in with a sac fly to CF. Kurt Suzuki then socked a ground-rule double the got wedged between the chain links and the padding of the LF wall, but Brebbia finally got out of the inning by getting Acuna to pop out in foul territory. 10-0 Braves.
The Cardinals tried to show proof of life in the bottom half, but crashed and burned again. Pinch-hitter Greg Garcia led off by grounding a full-count fastball through the hole between SS & 3B for a single, and Tommy Pham followed with a walk. But Jose Martinez grounded into a crippling 6-4-3 double play, and Marcell Ozuna struck out swinging on 3 pitches. Fried was at 83 pitches.
Brett Cecil relieved Brebbia. Johan Camargo greeted him with a leadoff single to RF, but Cecil recovered to get Swanson to pop out to 1B, Fried to ground into a 3-6 fielder’s choice, and Inciarte to fly out to CF.
The good news in the bottom of the 7th was that the Cardinals finally pushed Fried out of the game. The bad news is that 1 batter reached base, and the other 3 all struck out. In sequence, it was Francisco Pena who struck out first, an ugly result of an otherwise promisingly long PA. Gyorko continued his hapless ways by striking out swinging next, before Bader’s walk brought Brian Snitker out to replace his starter. Matt Wisler relieved and struck Munoz out looking at a curveball.
Cecil was relieved by fellow lefty Austin Gomber. He quickly retired Albies on a hot shot off the heel of his glove hand, and then got Freeman to ground out to 2B, and Danny Santana to strike out swinging.
Wisler returned to eat an inning for the Braves. He easily got Wong to pop out to 3B, and Garcia roll over on a grounder to 2B. He then finished off the inning by striking out Pham looking.
The game hit its nadir in the 9th. Bud Norris was pitching, for some reason, and got lead off batter Kurt Suzuki to ground out to SS. But Acuna drove a single to CF, which Pham badly misplayed and let slip between his legs and allow Acuna to run all the way around to 3B. Camargo drove him in with a sac fly back to Pham, for good measure, and Swanson struck out to end the frame. 11-0 Braves.
The Cardinals finally showed something, against a 1-inning reliever in his 3rd inning, in an 11-0 blowout. Jose Martinez led off with a HR to RCF. Dexter Fowler pinch hit and eked a single up the middle through the infield shift. Francisco Pena also singled up the middle, advancing Fowler to 3B, and himself to 2B on a bad throw to 3B. Gyorko brought home Fowler with a sac fly to CF, Bader brought home Pena with a ground-rule double to LF, and Munoz brought home Bader with a double down the 3B line past a diving Flaherty.
At this point, it was time for the Braves to bring in a new arm. So Freeman relieved Wisler, and got Wong & Garcia to line out & ground out to 1B, respectively. Braves win 11-4.
Luke Weaver: 4.2 IP, 8 ER, 10 H, 2 HR, 5 K, 2 BB, 13 GSc, 91 pitches
Max Fried: 6.2 IP, 0 ER, 5 H, 0 HR, 11 K, 3 BB, 77 GSc, 101 pitches
- A couple facts about John Brebbia: He bats lefty, he has no walk-up song, and owns his own custom bats.
- The Cardinals had more hits in the 9th than they did the rest of the game, or last night’s game, for that matter.
- I... don’t have anything nice to say.
A few years ago, there was an old school/new school divide in Matheny criticism, but at this point it unites St. Louis more than Imo's and Ted Drewes combined— St. Louis Bullpen (@STLbullpen) July 1, 2018
The Cardinals look to salvage a win tomorrow, sending John Gant to face Atlanta ace Mike Foltynewicz. Game starts at 1:15 CST, and can be viewed on FSMW and MLB Network, if out of market.